Indexed on: 06 Oct '15Published on: 06 Oct '15Published in: Advances in cognitive psychology / University of Finance and Management in Warsaw
Gender categorization seems prone to a pervasive bias: Persons about whom null or ambiguous gender information is available are more often considered male than female. Our study assessed whether such a male-bias is present in non-binary choice tasks and whether it can be altered by social contextual information. Participants were asked to report their perception of an adult figure's gender in three context conditions: (1) alone, (2) passively besides a child, or (3) actively helping a child (n = 10 pictures each). The response options male, female and I don't know were provided. As a result, participants attributed male gender to most figures and rarely used the I don't know option in all conditions, but were more likely to attribute female gender to the same adult figure if it was shown with a child. If such social contextual information was provided in the first rather than the second block of the experiment, subsequent female gender attributions increased for adult figures shown alone. Additionally, female gender attributions for actively helping relative to passive adults were made more often. Thus, we provide strong evidence that gender categorization can be altered by social context even if the subject of gender categorization remains identical.